The Force of Nonviolence: The Ethical in the Political

The Force of Nonviolence: The Ethical in the Political

“Judith Butler is the most creative and courageous social theorist writing today." – Cornel West

“Judith Butler is quite simply one of the most probing, challenging, and influential thinkers of our time.” – J. M. Bernstein

Judith Butler’s new book shows how an ethic of nonviolence must be connected to a broader political struggle for social equality. Further, it argues that nonviolence is often misunderstood as a passive practice that emanates from a calm region of the soul, or as an individualist ethical relation to existing forms of power. But, in fact, nonviolence is an ethical position found in the midst of the political field. An aggressive form of nonviolence accepts that hostility is part of our psychic constitution, but values ambivalence as a way of checking the conversion of aggression into violence. One contemporary challenge to a politics of nonviolence points out that there is a difference of opinion on what counts as violence and nonviolence. The distinction between them can be mobilized in the service of ratifying the state’s monopoly on violence.  

Considering nonviolence as an ethical problem within a political philosophy requires a critique of individualism as well as an understanding of the psychosocial dimensions of violence. Butler draws upon Foucault, Fanon, Freud, and Benjamin to consider how the interdiction against violence fails to include lives regarded as ungrievable. By considering how “racial phantasms” inform justifications of state and administrative violence, Butler tracks how violence is often attributed to those who are most severely exposed to its lethal effects. The struggle for nonviolence is found in movements for social transformation that reframe the grievability of lives in light of social equality and whose ethical claims follow from an insight into the interdependency of life as the basis of social and political equality.

Title:The Force of Nonviolence: The Ethical in the Political
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    The Force of Nonviolence: The Ethical in the Political Reviews

  • John Aggrey Odera

    I used to experience an odd sensation every time I listened to Yoko Ono’s and John Lennon’s song “Imagine”. It was this strange mixture of righteous indignation and hope. The song seemed to me...

  • Jack Allsop

    I had the strange fortune of picking this up immediately after finishing Orwell’s ‘Homage to Catalonia’. A book which serves as a rich counterpoint to Butler’s deconstruction of systemic viole...

  • Maik Arnold

    Once again, Judith Butler surprised me with a very insightful and complex seminal work about the forces of nonviolence. This book is more than philosophical reasoning, as it presents theoretical and p...

  • Alan

    An aimless-feeling and unfinished work. Should really have been called "musings on nonviolence". So many arguments are shied away from or shelved for another time that the reader has no way to shepher...

  • Danielle Anderson

    phenomenal. A must read for students of political science and philosophy. ...

  • Paul Ataua

    A very good if not always an easy read! Butler starts by investigating the concept of violence, something that a recent ‘angelic’ writer felt was not needed. She then goes on to criticize the ‘s...

  • Dominique

    3.5 stars...

  • Brandy Cross

    God, I hate psychoanalysis. If I had known so much of this book was pure psychoanalysis I would not have purchased it. That aside, exposure to things you dislike is, from time to time, good for you, s...

  • Nicolas Lontel

    L'introduction du livre m'a définitivement accroché dès le début, toutes les questions, observations qui sont posées au départ en sont toutes auquel je réfléchis couramment dans ma posture de ...

  • Shane

    In this book, Judith Butler has created a masterpiece of philosophy for the 21st Century.Drawing together her life's work in varied areas from language to feminism, from trans rights to racism, she ha...